Birthday Boy Proposes Major ALP Reforms

The former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, who turns 86 today, has proposed major internal reform for the ALP, including rank-and-file election of national conference delegates.

Gough WhitlamThe man responsible for fundamental internal reform of the ALP in the 1960s and 1970s, a campaign that saw him nearly expelled from the party, says the changes are needed to overcome the “friction of the factions”.

Whitlam, whose three-year term as Prime Minister ended with a vice-regal dismissal on November 11, 1975, calls for the ALP’s National Conference delegates to be voted for on an electorate-by-electorate basis by the party membership. At present, delegates to the National Conference are chosen by the State Conferences along rigid factional and union lines.

Quoted in the Financial Review, Whitlam delivers a “scathing assessment” of the ALP machines in the various states, pointing to the ALP’s abysmal showing in Queensland (7 of 26 House of Representatives seats in 2001), NSW (20/50) and South Australia (3/12) as evidence that “the predominant factions in those states cannot win federal elections”. [Read more…]

Centenary Of ALP Caucus 1901-2001: Whitlam Speech

This is the text of a speech given by Whitlam to a Federation Anniversary Dinner in Melbourne celebrating the centenary of the Federal ALP Caucus.

The event was part of the centenary celebrations of Federation. The first Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne on May 9, 1901.

Whitlam was 84 years old at the time he made this speech.

Text of Gough Whitlam’s speech to the ALP’s Federation Anniversary Dinner, May 8, 2001.

For once, Shakespeare got it wrong. His Henry V said: “Old men forget.” My problem is the multitude of vivid memories brought about by the grandeur of the occasion, the association with my birthplace, the presence of so many colleagues and your warm and enthusiastic welcome. Maintain your zeal and your enthusiasm through the coming campaign and until polling day.

The Caucus I joined in 1953 had as many Boer War veterans as men who had seen active service in World War 11, three from each. The Ministry appointed on 5 December 1972 was composed entirely of ex-servicemen: Lance Barnard and me. [Read more…]

Whitlam Resigns The ALP Leadership Following Election Defeat

Gough Whitlam announced that he would be relinquishing the leadership of the ALP in a brief statement on election night, December 10, 1977.

The Fraser government was comfortably re-elected, losing only a handful of seats and securing a victory nearly as substantial as the landslide of 1975. [Read more…]

Whitlam’s 1975 ALP Membership Ticket

Gough Whitlam’s ALP membership ticket for 1975.

Whitlam 1975 ALP ticket